Shea Stadium opened on April 17, 1964 in Flushing Meadows, Queens as the New York Mets played the Pittsburgh Pirates before 48,736 fans. The $25.5 million stadium marked a new beginning for the young club that had played its first two years at the Polo Grounds. The stadium was originally to be called Flushing Meadow Park but was later named for the popular attorney, William A. Shea, who spearheaded the drive to bring National League baseball back to New York following the departure of the Dodgers and Giants in 1957.
The architectural firm of Praeger-Kavanagh-Waterbury designed the stadium to be the first all-purpose facility capable of hosting baseball and football games, seating 55,300 for baseball and 60,000 for the New York Jets football team.
Over the years, Shea Stadium has hosted many other sports, entertainment and cultural events. The Stadium has opened its gates to college and pro football, soccer, boxing, religious conventions, a visit from Pope John Paul II, numerous musical events and even the Ice Capades. An overwhelming crowd of 60,000 screaming Beatles fans packed the stadium for the first major outdoor stadium concert on August 15, 1965. The Beatles were followed by other rock and roll legends including the Rolling Stones, The Who, The Police, Simon & Garfunkel, Elton John and Eric Clapton. Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix also made a little known appearance at Shea for the 1970 Summer Festival for Peace.
In 1982, the giant DiamondVision video display screen debuted in left-center field. The screen -- 35 feet, 8 inches wide by 26 feet, 3 inches high -- shows replays, special in-game features, statistics and more. The 12-person production staff captured two 2001 I.D.E.A. Golden Matrix Awards for best overall video and best overall matrix scoreboard display.